Paper aging and degradation are growing concerns for those who are responsible for the conservation of documents, archives, and libraries. In this study, the paper aging was investigated using laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (LIFS), where the fluorescence properties of 47 paper samples with different ages were explored. The paper exhibits fluorescence in the blue-green spectral region with two peaks at about 448 nm and 480 nm under the excitation of 405 nm laser. Both fluorescence peaks changed in absolute intensities and thus the ratio of peak intensities was also influenced with the increasing ages. By applying principal component analysis (PCA) and k-means clustering algorithm, all 47 paper samples were classified into nine groups based on the differences in paper age. Then the first-derivative fluorescence spectral curves were proposed to figure out the relationship between the spectral characteristic and the paper age, and two quantitative models were established based on the changes of first-derivative spectral peak at 443 nm, where one is an exponential fitting curve with an R-squared value of 0.99 and another is a linear fitting curve with an R-squared value of 0.88. The results demonstrated that the combination of fluorescence spectroscopy and PCA can be used for the classification of paper samples with different ages. Moreover, the first-derivative fluorescence spectral curves can be used to quantitatively evaluate the age-related changes of paper samples.
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